A sensitive but very real issue, discrimination in hiring practices has improved greatly in recent years – but still occurs. In this article we’ll go over some of those practices seen by recruiters or hiring managers on a regular basis, and what people in hiring positions can do to help keep the workforce staffed with diverse and qualified talent.

Recruiters, often the front line and beginning of the hiring process, are often secretly asked to help their clients fill requirements that cannot show up in job ads. Examples of some of these requests that violate anti-discrimination employment laws are:

  1. Preference for female or male candidates for certain positions
  2. Specifying a preferred age range for the desired candidate
  3. Desiring a physical or outward appearance including color, weight, or level of attractiveness

When I began working as an expat in the Middle Eastern market I was appalled to find some of the above-mentioned requirements listed often and openly in job ads that read like this:

Seeking a Business Development Manager, Female, between 30-37 years old. Must have a Western education, and attractive appearance.

These types of practices have limited my options to work with businesses in countries that don’t have anti-discrimination regulations in place since I prefer not to engage in searches where the job requirements include race, age, religion, or anything of the sort.

As much as we desire to please our clients and place candidates, recruiters have a responsibility to consider and present all appropriate and qualified candidates to be considered for openings.

This doesn’t mean we should recommend a candidate that has qualifies on paper but after meeting with them we realize they aren’t a good match for our clients, or we notice red flags that lead us to believe they could be a bad hire.

It does mean that we should submit all candidates for consideration as long as they qualify on paper and present themselves professionally, even if they don’t meet possible “secret” requirements i.e., gender, race, age, etc.

Anything other than that is a disservice to our clients, candidates, and is frankly, unethical.

What Job Seekers & Employees Can Do:

  • Avoid supporting companies that have a reputation for discrimination or unfair treatment of job applicants or employees for reasons protected under fair employment acts
  • Don’t provide personal information about yourself during the application process that is not related your ability to fulfill the duties listed within the job description

There’s a reason that putting your picture on your resume isn’t a recommended practice in progressive countries, and that is to avoid your physical appearance from being a deciding factor when it comes to whether or not you’ll get an interview.

And I know what you’re going to ask next – But what about LinkedIn? 

The answer is that if you want to be taken seriously as a job hunter, yes, you need a LinkedIn featuring a professional head-shot; a picture of yourself. You can set your profile picture setting to invisible to those not in your network or on your connections list, but chances are most recruiters are going to be connected to you in some way and be able to view your picture.

As long as your profile picture is appropriate and it’s not a picture of your dog or you in a Halloween costume (yes, there are many LinkedIn profile pics like this out there if you just search), you ultimately can’t worry too much about being discriminated against due to your attributes that are outside of your control.

You can only be grateful that you won’t have to waste your time and effort going to interview with someone who wouldn’t have hired you anyway for superficial reasons.

What Job Seekers & Employees Shouldn’t Do:

  • Fail to report discrimination –when there are evidence and a pattern of it- using the proper channels if you believe you can prevent others from receiving discriminatory treatment
  • Worry too much about discrimination

Have you ever crossed paths with someone who had a chip on their shoulder?

Insecurity may come across as arrogance or a tendency to be confrontational. Those aren’t just unpleasant characteristics – insecurity can lead you to prejudge a hiring manager who may not have any intention to discriminate, causing tension between you and them that doesn’t even need to exist.

If you walk around with a bad attitude and negative outlook those will be the reasons no one hires you; not your appearance.

In conclusion, there are many things hiring authorities and job seekers alike can do to resist bias in hiring practices. One of the first things we must do is cease to tolerate it from those we choose to do business with, then ensure that we promote assessing talent mainly based on capability to do a job and perform well at it.